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Summary

Jellal, younger brother to Karna, finds himself in a precarious situation - his sister is trapped and a giant is approaching. These giants have never seemed interested in setting traps until now - and Jellal doesn't know what to do. Desperately, he offers an alternative. What will happen to him? What were the giant's intentions with his sister? And what is it - he - going to do to Jellal now? A lot of giants come across their miniscule companions and, more often than not, someone comes bursting in to make a deal - “Take me and leave them alone.” Usually, the giant shrugs it off saying they don’t want to keep them, but what if they did? What if a deal was actually struck and the tiny had to stay with the giant - anticipating that they would be set free and are actually kept for various reasons? OR WORSE... What if the other tinies find out and oust the one who was seen while their clan/village/society immigrates? Interested in reading about this?

Genre:
Fantasy / Thriller
Author:
Narrans
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
2
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1

This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Jellal knew this wasn’t how things were supposed to go. It was just supposed to be a quick hunting trip; that was all. A quick hunting trip into the deep woods. How did it come to this? Why did it have to come to this?

~~~~~

It was well into the early season, the buds on the trees and underbrush were in full bloom but the land had yet to heat up unforgivably. Despite the land producing well, the people knew they needed fresh game to help supplement their supplies until the true harvest.

Karna Zeferino was one of the best huntresses in the town and Jellal knew it – she was his older sister after all. It was only natural that the townsfolk assumed he would also possess this natural ability, but that wasn’t the case. Jellal had always been slightly ill and sickly on a good day, his lungs unable to handle the air at times. Still, that didn’t stop him from trying to keep up and learn from his older sister – his only sister.

Karna was patient and dedicated, but also felt the responsibilities of being a gifted huntress. Often, she would try and give Jellal a lesson and leave him in an area near a watering hole to lie in wait for an unsuspecting creature while she hunted larger game deeper in the woods. This usually worked and yielded decent results, but everyone in the village knew who they could always rely on. Still, the forest was a dangerous place and not for the faint of heart, so no one said anything to the teen.

The forest was one of the many homes and territories ruled by large beasts that could easily end one of them, devour them whole and leave little trace of their existence. The territory was also ruled by the giants of the land. Comparatively speaking, a single townsfolk stood around the height of one of their taller fingers and could easily be enveloped in their hand if given the chance. They were typically well dressed, keeping to finer clothes rather than furs and savage leathers like the people of the town. There were even rumors that some of these larger folk possessed magical capabilities.

Despite this significant size and power differences between the two races, they kept to their own – not having many interactions and, from time to time, exchanging pleasantries if they happened along one another. Recently, however, there were whispers of people going missing and sightings of traps. Naturally, the giants were suspected. It was only recently confirmed by a couple of the hunters that they thought they saw these giants with cages at their sides, but these individuals were unreliable on their best days.

Jellal had always been hesitant at the thought of interacting with these beings but had only ever seen one a single time; and that was at a significant distance. With how finely they dressed and the stories of their grandness and cities which were rumored to be thousands of times larger than their own village, it made Jellal question why such powerful creatures would bother setting traps.

Unfortunately… having doubts did not mean that the statements were untrue.

~~~~~

Jellal now clung to metallic bars and stared into the cage that imprisoned his sister. They had only just separated when the sounds of clicking and whirring slammed down hard enough to shake the ground. He ran quickly and quietly through the underbrush to investigate the noise when he found his sister trying to pry the bars from the base, using her bow as leverage. It wasn’t working.

Now, as he clung to the bars, his chest began to tighten, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe and help his sister get free.

“Jellal, you need to calm down!” Karna urged, setting aside her escape attempt to clasp her fingers around her brother’s hands. “In and out with me. Ready? In. Out. Deep. Breath.” Each word was accompanied by the action and Jellal desperately clung to his sister’s words.

“How… are… we…”

“Shhh…” interrupted Karna. “You focus on breathing. Let me worry about getting out of here.” Karna gave her brother’s hands a reassuring squeeze, letting the warmth of her hand sing into his rapidly chilling fingers, before attending to her escape. Her keen green eyes picked up where the latches on the cage were as well as the spacing of the bars. In theory, if there were more of them, they could each take a latch and pull as hard as they could while she lifted. Unfortunately, only her brother was present.

The idea came to her just as Jellal was regaining his breath, the color in his slightly pale face returning. Her sharp green eyes pierced into his light blue ones and, instantly, he knew what she was about to ask of him.

“Jellal, you need to go get some of the other villagers,” she instructed. Jellal, heart beginning to pound as his mind was injected with sheer panic, instinctually shook his head.

“I’m not… going to… leave you,” he said defiantly, his emphasis and defiance lost in part because he was still focused on breathing regularly.

“You’re going to have to. These latches are keeping me in here and Spirits knows that we can’t pull all of them free all at once with just two of us; and one of those two are trapped. Jellal, you have to do this. Okay?” He looked down, his brown hair falling into his eyes as he stared down at his boots. His heart felt hollow with every beat, like his veins were trying to pump air. His body trembled as his breath once again began to burn and freeze up his lungs.

The teen had just turned, summoning enough courage to take that first step, when a sound began to shake the earth. It was deep set, rhythmic. The boy stared up at the immense trees around them, realizing only now that the blood wasn’t roaring in his ears and the wheezing in his lungs had partially subsided, that the sounds of birds and insects had silenced. What was more alarming was the sounds were getting louder.

He felt his heart triple in pace as he turned his pale blue gaze frantically to his sister who, like him, had also just noticed their surroundings and the imminent danger approaching. Karna instinctually backed herself against the cage, shoulders trembling from beneath her leathers and furs. Instinctively, she clutched at her dagger and kept her bow close, hung on the inside of her cloak.

“Run,” she muttered. “Run. Get out of here. Go tell the others.” Jellal didn’t need to see the panic in her eyes or hear the tremble in her voice to know exactly what was going through her mind.

“But… Karna!” Jellal ran up to the bars again, grasping at her hand and intertwining their fingers. She remained motionless but squeezed back reassuringly.

“I’ll be okay. Trust me.” His sister wasn’t trying to lie to him, but evidently her naturally protective nature worked only to reassure him rather than confront the unknown. Jellal clutched to his sister’s hand once more before darting off into the bushes back toward the town. Tears pricked his blue eyes as he continued moving as quietly and quickly as he could; that is, until he hears the sounds of the thudding stop.

In truth, Jellal hadn’t gotten very far before his lungs seized up and the despair and guilt began to wrack his conscious. How could he just leave his sister? How could he turn his back on her? Yes, she had commanded him to go, but what was she going to do? Jellal stopped and thrust his back against a tree, using his keen ears to listen as he calmed his breathing.

Faintly, he could hear elements of a conversation.

“Oh… what have we here?” a melodic male voice drifted through the air like a plume of smoke. It wasn’t high pitched, but it wasn’t the thunderous and deep rolling voice Jellal anticipated coming from a creature of such immense size.

“I am Karna Zeferino of Westray, and I demand to be set free from this confounded trap of yours!” Karna, as always, sounded commanding and confrontational while keeping an air of formality. Why is she so much better at all of this than me? If I were trapped, I doubt I could utter a word.

“Karna, you say? Pleasant greetings to you. I am Murad Drakon,” said the strange giant. There were sounds of grinding metal before Jellal heard an indignant shout from his sister.

“What are you doing? I demand you set me free from this trap at once! I am obviously not prey to be caught. I possess sentience, much like yourself,” argued Karna. Jellal heard a hum and snort of amusement.

“While these things are true, I have no intention of setting you lose; at least, not in these woods and not back in your village,” replied Murad Drakon coolly. Jellal could hear the sounds of frantic fists pounding against metal and the sounds of his sister’s frantic shouts. His insides churned. An unholy nausea plagued him as he gasped for air.

What is he going to do to her? He’s not going to let her go home. We need her. The village needs her. I need her. I… I can’t…

The teen wasn’t sure what possessed his mind and body in that moment, but he forced himself up, still wheezing and gasping for air, and rounded the tree just to crash through the underbrush. Jellal wasn’t eloquent by any stretch of the imagination and, with his mind racing and yet forming no coherent thoughts, simply shouted the first thing that came to his mind.

“Wait!”

His pale blue eyes suddenly could see the figure who held his sister captive. This giant had dark auburn hair and slim features which created thin, piercing lines on his face. His eyes, a dark brown, swirled with intrigue at the sudden outburst at his feet. He could see his sister was still in the cage, which was nearly completely enveloped on one side in Murad’s hand. The giant’s attire was surprisingly formal with a vest, coat, and gloves – all of which only made him more odd and intimidating as he towered above the teen.

“Well now, what have we here?” he asked absently. The sounds of thrashing in the cage subsided as Karna forced her face against the bars, catching only a glimpse of her brother before she began shouting again.

“Jellal! Get out of here! Get the others!” His sister’s desperate cries barely registered.

Poor Jellal was trembling so hard that he doubted he could run now anyway. Instead, his gaze remained transfixed on the giant’s dark brown eyes that seemed to swirl with some strange force like churning water in a stream. His breath was labored as his heart threatened to explode from his chest. Each pound wracked his ribs and made his chest ache horribly. What are you going to do with my sister? Are you going to use her for something? Keep her for your entertainment? Will you… I… I just…. I just want to go home. Just let my sister go and let us go home. I won’t come back. We won’t hunt again. We’ll find another place to hunt. All of these things Jellal wanted to say, but they caught in his tightening throat instead.

The giant curiously turned his head and knelt in front of the boy, making him stumble backwards and trip. Prone, the teen realized that he could do absolutely nothing if this giant wanted to crush him into a fleshy puddle.

“You’re an interesting one,” said Murad as he tilted his head to the opposite side, all the while maintaining eye-contact with him. Jellal couldn’t even swallow his throat had become so dry with his gasping, wheezing breaths. “My, that doesn’t sound promising. You ought to breathe more calmly. Here, take this.”

Murad reached into a side pouch. In between his pinched fingers was a collection odd, jagged leaves. “Burn these and breath in the vapors. It will help your breath. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have pressing matters to attend to.”

Jellal watched as Murad prepared to stand. Say something. Anything! He can’t take her!

“Please! Please don’t… take my… sist…er,” he pleaded, finding the words and forcing them out. He wanted his chest to stop hurting. He wanted his sister back. He wanted to go home. He wanted his sister to be able to come home. “The village! They need her! She’s the best huntress we have. You can’t take her!”

Murad paused and looked at the teen again. “I think you’ll find that you can indeed manage and, unfortunately, I do need to be on my way.” Jellal was at his wits end as the giant moved to stand once again.

In that moment, and he wasn’t sure what it was, he remembered the voices of the villagers. He remembered their praises for his sister and their silence at his own lack of skill. What did he contribute? What could he do? He couldn’t work the fields as efficiently as the others because he was so easily winded. His skill in hunting was lacking, especially compared to his sister. What was he good at? His answer – nothing.

The answer became clear as day just as Murad turned his gaze from the boy.

“Take me instead!”

The words rang out crystal clear from Jellal’s mouth and pierced the silence in a way his words hadn’t before as he stood. Murad turned once again and stared at the boy. Even Karna was silent at her younger brother’s statement.

“I beg your pardon?” he uttered.

“I know you heard me. Take me instead! Leave my sister and you can do what you will with me.” Those dark brown eyes swirled again and narrowed at Jellal’s proposal.

“What are you doing? Fool! Get gone and go home! Hey! You! Monstrous git! You already have me! Leave my brother alone!” howled Karna, but these words fell on deaf ears.

The amount of intrigue in the giant’s features was lethal, but Jellal remained as firm as he could under the strain. He wanted to breathe. He desperately wanted to breathe calmly, but the wheezing made his body shudder and shake. His knees threatened to give out on him, his entire body electrified with the intensity of the air between the giant and himself. With a sigh, the giant seemed to yield as he set the cage onto the ground as Karna grasped at the bars and thrashed against them.

“Very well. It’s not as if it matters which of you I take,” said Murad. The teen’s knees buckled but, before he hit the ground, Murad’s hand had scooped up the boy, fingers engulfing him entirely, and lifted him into the air. The only thing that could be seen of Jellal was from the knees down.

Jellal, on the other hand, felt his entire body convulse as an almost uncomfortable warmth surrounded him, pinning his arms to his sides before lifting him into the air. Everything was muffled except for the subtle sounds of the giant’s pulse in his hands. He knew his sister was shouting, but what he couldn’t say. Jellal felt nothing under his feet for several seconds before they brushed against something leathery. For a moment, he wanted to cry out, unsure of what was enveloping his feet and shins. There was a breathless moment as Murad’s hand opened and dropped Jellal into a small pouch on the giant’s belt, plunging the brown-haired teen into a leathery darkness.

He heard the sounds of creaking metal and more shouts from his sister, but it didn’t last long because, suddenly, he felt the giant rise. His insides lurched as he was suddenly brought to a significant height (at least he guessed by the way his stomach lurched and was left behind). The rhythmic steps of Murad were the only things he could hear clearly. They began slowly before suddenly picking up pace, and an incredible pace at that – to the point that Jellal couldn’t determine when the giant made contact with the ground.

It was at this point the stress of the situation seized him and, in that darkness, he slipped into unconsciousness.

~~~~~

Jellal had a hard time opening his eyes, feeing a soft surface surrounding him. It was warm and something wet was touching his forehead. His body convulsed involuntarily and his mind jumped to the worst, but this was dismissed as his eyes focused on a single candle that was lit and the presence of two hands near him.

Jellal’s eyes found Murad staring at him with a look of concentration and concern as he dabbed the teen’s forehead with a cloth. Seeing he was conscious, Murad removed the damp cloth and simply stared at the boy.

“Pleasant sleep?” he asked hollowly. Jellal wasn’t sure how to answer the question and gave a noncommittal shrug instead. The giant sighed and rolled his eyes. “I suppose that is as good of an answer as any. At least your not shouting shrilly. I hear that is too common of an occurrence.” Jellal watched Murad stand and stride effortlessly across the room, finally giving Jellal a moment to evaluate his surroundings.

He was in what looked like a room full of books and shelves that were twice the height of any building they were capable of constructing. There was a fireplace which could easily set the town ablaze on the opposite side of the room where Murad currently stood. Near these books were hundreds of knobs which looked like they opened drawers all along the walls, separating shelf after shelf. Daring himself to do so, Jellal looked up, immediately experiencing a sense of vertigo as he could not see the ceiling in the current light. There was a strange device nearby which swirled with a nauseating vapor which wafted down from the device to where he currently lay, which consisted of a pillow as large as a small house and a blanket.

A bowl was set nearby, making the teen jump out of his skin. Murad took a spoon and dipped it into the bowl, checked the temperature by bringing it to his lips, and, surprisingly, lowered it to Jellal’s height. Jellal leaned away instinctually, eyes darting between the spoon and the person who held it.

“You should consume sustenance. Depriving yourself of such things is detrimental to your well-being.” Not wanting to anger the giant, Jellal obliged and sipped the top of the broth. It took a moment, but he leaned away after taking in a few mouthfuls. Of all the questions rising in the teen’s mind, one rose above the others.

“Why did you take me?” Murad looked slightly perplexed as he lowered the spoon back into the bowl.

“You requested I take you. Do you not recall?” asked Murad, brushing his auburn hair from his eyes with his pinkie finger.

“No… I… I remember that…” said Jellal awkwardly. “I mean… why did you take me? Why were you going to take my sister? Why take anyone?” Murad sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair, arms folding across his chest.

“Because, boy, I’m trying to save your lives.”

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